Most Common Workplace Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)


13th October 2020

Some of the most common workplace injuries affect employees across a range of industries, and there are ways to prevent them.

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    Injuries in the workplace are a guaranteed occurrence, but there are ways to minimise the risk that your environment poses and to protect employees from unnecessary hazard. Employers have a responsibility to run risk assessments on any areas where employees spend time and should address any health threats. Employers should sign slippery surfaces and suitable PPE equipment should be available to employees whenever required.

    Across all business sectors, there is a range of different threats to health. More physical roles like scaffolding or construction introduce a risk of falling from a height, where office work is more likely to cause a muscle strain or backache from poor posture. With this in mind, what are the most common workplace injuries across all industries, and what can be done to prevent them?

     

    Slips, trips and falls

    Slips, trips and falls account for 29% of all non-fatal accidents (HSE, 2019) with employees in the UK. Something as simple as inappropriate footwear, or an umbrella being left blocking a walkway could result in employee slips, trips and falls across a host of different industry workplaces. 

    As an employer, you should continuously assess your business premises for potential risks of slips, trips and falls, and keep your employees aware of these hazards. Any risks that can’t be entirely removed need to be signposted where appropriate, such as wet floors or leaks. Ensure a place for all items, such as hoovers and cleaning supplies, so that they are never left in a position where they could cause a trip. 

    Clear walkways for employees with an even surface are essential in an office building, just as they are important in construction areas. Though with the task of carrying heavy materials, safe spaces to walk are vital for construction workers to avoid injuries from not only tripping but also dropping objects. Dropping objects is the next most common cause of injury in the workplace.

     

    Handling, lifting and carrying

    Handling, lifting and carrying account for 20% of all non-fatal accidents with employees in the UK. These accidents are more likely to occur in a physically demanding workplace, but you can find heavy objects that need to be moved in office environments too.

    If the handling of heavy objects, lifting and carrying are a large part of your employees’ job roles, you should provide sufficient training to teach them sensible body positioning, and how to protect themselves. Protective footwear is also sensible to provide for these job roles, as steel-toe capped boots will further prevent injury if materials are dropped. Anything heavier than 25kg for men or 16kg for women should not be attempted for manual lifting or carrying, and should instead be lifted by two people or by machine. 
     

    Struck by moving object

    Being struck by a moving object accounts for 10% of non-fatal accidents with employees in the UK. Particularly in the food and drink industry, being hit by a moving object such as a sharp knife or a pair of scissors is a prominent risk. 

    Extensive training for employees often handling sharp tools is vital, and protective equipment should be provided when necessary. For example, in the process of deboning, employees should wear a suitable protective glove on their non-knife hand. Knives should have a secure storage space to be kept within after use, and utensils should be used for their intended purpose. For example, employees should not use cheese knives for cutting fruit, because each knife shape is designed for a purpose.

     

    Injuries in the workplace are unavoidable, but you can minimise risk by being a considerate employer and consistently addressing the risks that your workplace poses. Your business benefits from maintaining high health and safety standards, as you will always pass inspections and your employees won’t need to take time off from work to recover from injury.